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House expected to take up Jacky Rosen health-care resolution

Updated December 12, 2018 - 5:45 pm

WASHINGTON — A resolution by Rep. Jacky Rosen to allow Congress to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of health care law provisions on pre-existing conditions could be one of the first measures taken up by the new Democrat-controlled House next year.

Rosen, D-Nev., introduced the resolution in July, and the measure has gained support among Democratic leaders, including House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. More than 160 other House Democrats also have endorsed the resolution, including Nevada Rep. Dina Titus.

The resolution would allow the House to intervene as a third party in a federal lawsuit brought by Texas and other states challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the requirement that insurance companies provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Rosen introduced the resolution after the Trump administration announced it would not defend the law against the legal challenge. GOP leaders in the House blocked the Rosen resolution in committee, where it died for lack of action.

Nevada is not a party to the Texas lawsuit.

Maintaining health-care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was a major election-year issue for Democrats, who captured 40 new seats to win back control of the House.

Republicans had pledged to craft a legislative fix to help protect those with pre-existing conditions.

But Rosen and Democrats accused congressional Republicans and the Trump administration of continuing to try to sabotage the ACA by repealing pieces of the law and declining to defend it in court.

About 1.2 million Nevadans have a pre-existing condition, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington.

Rosen said her resolution would prevent “Republicans from turning back the clock.”

“No one wants to go back to a time when big insurance companies could deny coverage just for having a pre-existing condition,” she said.

Pelosi said last month that health care protections and prescription drug affordability would be the first priorities of new Congress, which convenes Jan. 3.

Companion legislation was filed in the Senate by Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Despite support in the House, the measure faces hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans remain in control. GOP leaders ther ehave argued that mandates in the ACA have driven up coverage costs and imposed a financial burden on taxpayers.

The bills are unlikely to be heard in committee or voted on before the current 115th Congress adjourns, meaning they must be filed anew in the next Congress.

Rosen was elected to the Senate and is expected to sign on to new legislation in the upper chamber.

“It is a priority for her,” a Rosen spokeswoman said. “It was one of her top priorities in the House.”

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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